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No. 7 Duke bounces back with 87-52 win over Pitt

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PITTSBURGH — Marvin Bagley III scored 16 points and grabbed 15 rebounds and No. 7 Duke had little trouble bouncing back from a loss to North Carolina State by drilling overmatched Pittsburgh 87-52 on Wednesday night.

Bagley also blocked a shot while recording his 13th double-double of the season, one shy of the Duke freshman record shared by Jabari Parker and Gene Banks.

The Blue Devils (14-2, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) never trailed and needed less than 17 minutes to build a 30-point lead. Trevon Duval and Gary Trent Jr. scored 14 apiece and Grayson Allen added 11 points, four rebounds and four assists for Duke.

Four days removed from a 96-85 loss to the Wolfpack that left head coach Mike Krzyzewski fuming about his team’s “frantic” play, the Blue Devils responded by shutting down the freshmen-laden Panthers.

Duke limited Pitt (8-9, 0-4) to 13 points in the first 17 minutes and just 24 in the opening half, the second-fewest the Blue Devils have given up in a half this season.

Jared Wilson-Frame led the Panthers with 17 points but Pitt shot just 33 percent (17 for 51) and committed 15 turnovers in all, 10 coming during a first half in which the Panthers were overwhelmed at just about every turn.

The Blue Devils made their first four shots and by the time Pitt’s Shamiel Stevenson hit a layup 4:05 in, the Panthers were already down eight. Bagley then responded with a dunk and hook shot and the competitive portion of the game was effectively over.

A total of nine freshmen started. While the five first-year players who took the court for Pitt are projects that are vital to head coach Kevin Stallings’ rebuilding project, the four the Blue Devils threw out there are headed to the NBA sooner rather than later.

Bagley is at the top of the list and the 6-foot-11 center did whatever he wanted whenever he wanted against a frontcourt that is missing senior Ryan Luther, who remains out indefinitely with a stress reaction in his right foot.

BIG PICTURE

Duke: The blowout gave the Blue Devils a chance to get well defensively while also providing Krzyzewski an opportunity to give his thin bench plenty of run, something that could pay off down the road. No Duke player saw more than 29 minutes of action.

Pitt: A long season figures to get even longer with Luther still in a walking boot and his return uncertain. If anything, it will force Pitt’s young roster to grow up on the job. Down 30 less than 15 minutes into the game, the Panthers could have easily bailed. Instead they fought, cutting it to 17 in the second half and forcing Duke to call a timeout before the Blue Devils pulled away for good.

UP NEXT

Duke: hosts Wake Forest on Saturday. The Blue Devils have won each of the last six meetings with the Demon Deacons.

Pitt: welcomes Georgia Tech on Saturday. The Panthers are 4-1 against the Yellow Jackets since joining the ACC in 2013.

No. 4 Duke outlasts No. 24 Florida State

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Duke used a late push to outlast No. 24 Florida State on Saturday afternoon as the No. 4 Blue Devils raced to a 100-93 ACC home. Despite battling foul trouble, cold perimeter shooting and an inconsistent defensive effort, Duke made enough plays down the stretch to finish off the pesky Seminoles.

Freshman big man Marvin Bagley III had a ridiculous outing with 32 points and 21 rebounds to pace the Blue Devils while freshman point guard Trevon Duval (16 points) made a lot of key plays on both ends of the floor to close out the game.

1. Duke’s offense can still put up ridiculous numbers despite cold shooting

Duke put up 100 points against a top-20 defense while only shooting 8-for-30 from three-point range.

The Blue Devils never seemed to get comfortable from beyond the arc on Saturday. We’ve seen stretches this season where Duke goes cold from three-point range. You also have to factor that the Blue Devils had only played one game since Dec. 9 and rust might have been at play.

But despite the cold shooting, Duke’s offense still got rolling and looked unstoppable at times. Offensive rebounding was the huge key for Duke’s sustained offensive success on Saturday. Bagley (11 offensive rebounds) and fellow freshman Wendell Carter Jr. (seven offensive rebounds) seemingly cleaned up every Duke miss as the Blue Devils had 23 offensive rebounds.

Considering that the Seminoles have a lot of depth while Duke is mostly trotting out the same five players and that sustained effort on the glass from the Blue Devils is very impressive.

If Duke is making perimeter looks, good luck stopping this team. But even if they’re not finding consistent success with the deep ball, this offense still has many other ways to beat you. It’s part of the reason Duke has the highest ceiling of any team in the country.

2. Duke’s defense is still a work-in-progress

One of the major developments to track for Duke this season has been its inconsistent defense. Saturday saw more ups and downs from the Blue Devils as this team is still trying to find its defensive identity.

Giving up 93 points to the Seminoles is a bit of an eye-opener. But this game was also played at a very fast pace with players like Phil Cofer (28 points) and Braian Angola (23 points) getting red-hot during certain stretches to carry the Florida State offense.

Duke’s defense still looked shaky at times — especially contesting perimeter jumpers from hot shooters — but they put together a strong final few minutes to secure this win. Florida State missed its final six shots to end the contest as the Blue Devil defense came through when it mattered most. Four starters were playing with four fouls for Duke but that didn’t seem to compromise much of the group’s intensity during the final stretch. Carter did a nice job of taking a key late charge and a rejuvenated Duval seemed to be flying all over the perimeter.

The Blue Devils still have issues with good perimeter shooting and teams who can take either Bagley or Carter away from the basket. But as long as Duke can defend in stretches like they did to close on Saturday, their offense can generally take care of the rest.

3. Just how good is Florida State?

We know Florida State is pretty good. At least we think they’re pretty good. The Seminoles were one of the final teams to remain unbeaten this season and they own an impressive road win at Florida. That’s also easily the most impressive win that Florida State has at this point.  A road win at Rutgers is arguably Florida State’s second best win. They have recent losses to Oklahoma State and now to the Blue Devils.

So how good is Florida State? It’s seriously very hard to answer that question at this point in the season. We can likely pencil this group into the NCAA tournament, for now, but where do the Seminoles rank in the ACC pecking order? Going toe-to-toe with Duke on the road is encouraging but Florida State also hasn’t done a whole lot yet when it comes to quality wins.

Cofer finished with a career-high 28 points on Saturday, as he has elevated his play to another level over the last several weeks. Angola is also capable of taking over a game on the offensive end if he gets rolling with the jumper. And although Terance Mann only attempted six field goals against Duke (a staggeringly low number for a team’s leading scorer against a top-five opponent) he’s also a noted offensive presence who was shooting over 63 percent from the floor entering Saturday’s game.

Florida State has weapons. They have depth. They have athleticism. Now comes the time when the Seminoles need to start winning games against quality competition. The next stretch will be key for Florida State. The Seminoles now get a chance to face North Carolina and Miami the next two games — two top-15 teams. Florida State needs to win one of those games to stay in the ACC race, otherwise they risk starting league play at 0-3 and putting themselves in a major hole.

Bagley, Carter lead No. 1 Duke past St. Francis, 124-67

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DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Trevon Duval kept getting the ball to his teammates, and they kept scoring with it. It added up to a record-setting performance for top-ranked Duke.

The freshman point guard had 11 of the Blue Devils’ school-record 34 assists in a 124-67 rout of St. Francis (Pa.) on Tuesday night.

“It shows that we’re sharing the ball more, we’re playing more as a team, trying to find each other,” Duval said. “And it also means guys are making shots.”

Freshman Marvin Bagley III had 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Duke scored 71 points in the first half — just the fourth 70-point half in program history.

Marques Bolden had 17 points and 10 rebounds, Wendell Carter Jr. had 15 points and Gary Trent Jr. and Grayson Allen both finished with 14 points for the Blue Devils (11-0).

They dominated every line in the box score. In addition to the assist total that broke the record of 33 set against Miami in 1986, Duke shot 60 percent and built a 61-25 rebounding advantage over a St. Francis team that has only one player taller than 6-foot-9.

“No one got into their own game,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “They were into our game.”

The Blue Devils needed just over 10 minutes to build a 30-point lead and hit the 100-point mark on Bagley’s layup with 8 1/2 minutes remaining.

Three players — Andre Wolford, Jamaal King and Keith Braxton — scored 13 points each for the Red Flash (3-5), who have lost three of four.

BIG PICTURE

St. Francis: This was just the second time in school history that the Red Flash played No. 1, and this one didn’t go any better than it did in 1974 when Adrian Dantley’s Notre Dame team won by 20. They also took on their second Atlantic Coast Conference opponent of the season. They kept it reasonably close against Louisville, losing by 12 last month, but just didn’t have the size to handle Bagley or Carter in this one.

“Certainly not the outcome or the score differential that we had hoped,” coach Rob Krimmel said. “Certainly it was a daunting task to be able to keep their post players and their size away from the rim, and they certainly willed their style early in the game, and then combined with some very good outside shooting — a team like that becomes very, very … difficult to guard when they’re clicking on all cylinders.”

Duke: Maybe Duke doesn’t need a break after all. This was Duke’s 11th game in the first 26 days of the regular season, a run that included a cross-country trip to Portland, Oregon, for the PK80. But things are about to slow down. After the Blue Devils begin ACC play Saturday at Boston College, they’ll play just two more games before January.

“We’re 11-0,” Krzyzewski said. “Now, we’re 0 and 0.”

ALMOST HISTORY

The Blue Devils were one point shy of matching the school record of 72 points in a half, first accomplished against Virginia in 1965 and equaled against Harvard in 1989. Duke had a chance to claim the mark for itself but Javin DeLaurier missed a runner a couple of seconds before the halftime buzzer.

THEY SAID IT

The Cameron Crazies’ taunting game seems ready for the higher-stakes conference season, too. With the Red Flash trailing 37-9 midway through the first half, the Duke fans chanted “10 minutes, nine points.” And after Deivydas Kuzavas finally hit a bucket to make it 37-11, their taunt changed to “double digits.”

UP NEXT

St. Francis: Visits Niagara on Saturday.

Duke: Begins ACC play Saturday at Boston College.

___

More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

No. 1 Duke uses late run to pull away from Indiana 91-81

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Marvin Bagley III finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds and Grayson Allen added 21 points to help No. 1 Duke get past pesky Indiana 91-81 on Wednesday night in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

It sure wasn’t easy for the Blue Devils (9-0), who needed a late 17-4 spurt to finally pull away for their first true road win of the season. Wendell Carter Jr. had 18 points and 12 rebounds.

Indiana (4-3) was led by Robert Johnson with 17 points and De’Ron Davis with 16 as its three-game winning streak ended.

Duke turned what had been a back-and-forth game with a 10-4 spurt to close the first half, taking a 42-38 lead. When the Blue Devils jumped to a 52-42 lead just 94 seconds into the second half, it looked they would pull away.

Instead, the Hoosiers charged back with seven straight points, tied the score at 57 on Collin Hartman’s long 3-pointer and took the lead when Hartman made two free throws with 12:17 left to make it 61-59.

Neither team could take more than a two-possession lead until Gary Trent Jr.’s three-point play gave Duke an 86-77 lead with 2:24 left.

Indiana never seriously challenged again.

BIG PICTURE

Duke: The Blue Devils might be even better than advertised. They’ve won nine games in 20 days, beaten two Top 10 teams and now have their first true road win. No, it wasn’t pretty, but they get the job done.

Indiana: The Hoosiers fought valiantly. They played defense, took care of the ball and hung around most of the game. It was an impressive performance, a better effort and the first big indication that new coach Archie Miller is getting things on track in Bloomington.

UP NEXT

Duke: Hosts South Dakota on Saturday, its first home game since Nov. 20.

Indiana: Opens Big Ten play Saturday at Michigan.

___

More college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP

Marvin Bagley ruled immediately eligible to play for Duke

Marvin Bagley (Jon Lopez, Nike)
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Marvin Bagley has been officially cleared by the NCAA to play for Duke this season.

The potential No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, Bagley committed to Duke in August after reclassifying into the school late this summer.

The 6-foot-10 Bagley has a chance to be an All-American in what should be his only year of college basketball as he’ll likely start in the Duke front court and be a featured presence from Day 1. With Bagley joining, Duke is the No. 1 team in the current CBT top 25 as they bring in a loaded freshman class to includes other five-stars like point guard Trevon Duval, guard Gary Trent Jr. and big man Wendell Carter.

Bagley could be a double-double machine at the college level as the bouncy lefty is one of the more skilled big men to enter college basketball as a freshman in recent memory. With his ability to rebound, score on the interior and block shots, Bagley should help Duke on both ends of the floor.

If Bagley is able to knock down perimeter shots and show some ball-handling ability — which he has shown in the past at the high school level — then he could be in line to be a potential No. 1 pick in the next draft as he joins a deep freshman class in college basketball that includes Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr., Arizona’s Deandre Ayton and Texas’ Mohamed Bamba.

Duke’s Christian Laettner shouts out North Carolina’s Luke Maye on Twitter after winning jumper over Kentucky

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Duke and North Carolina don’t have much in common.

But the historic college basketball rivals now have the distinction of earning late Elite Eight wins over Kentucky that involved a No. 32 making the winning shot.

Blue Devil legend Christian Laettner is famous for his 1992 buzzer-beater over Kentucky in the Elite Eight and he made sure to give some love to North Carolina sophomore Luke Maye after his own Elite Eight shot knocked out the Wildcats.